An Indian-American hotel developer has been sentenced to three years of imprisonment by a US court for defrauding around 300 Chinese nationals who invested in his failed USD 900 million project.
Anshoo Sethi, 32, pleaded guilty in a Chicago court on Tuesday following which the judge handed down the sentence. According to the court papers, Sethi, the founder of a Chicago Convention Center LLC, purported in 2011 to build a hotel and convention center near the O' Hare International Airport in Chicago.
He solicited Chinese nationals to invest USD 500,000 each in the project, plus USD 41,500 in administrative fees to his company.
Each Chinese national who participated in the project also applied for an EB-5 visa, which allows foreign investors to obtain a temporary two-year visa that could later be converted to a permanent visa upon success of an employment-generating investment.
Sethi raised approximately USD 158 million from more than 290 investors. The US Securities and Exchange Commission brought a civil lawsuit against Sethi and was able to restore approximately USD 147 million to the Chinese investors, the US Department of Justice said.
While soliciting the investors, Sethi made several false statements, including lies about funding and tax credits from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago, none of which materialised.
The USD 900 million project never got off the ground, and no EB-5 visas were ever granted to the investors.